David Earl Savage Jr, was born in San Bernardino, in California, on 26 August 1946. He was an all American NASCAR driver that started his career in Soap Box Derbies at the tender age of five years old. Soon he was racing Quarter Midget cars, and by the age of twelve, he had moved up to Go-Kart racing. Swede Savage took a keen interest in motorcycle racing in his late teens, and started driving a Lola in the late 1960s, in the Can-Am Racing Series. A few NASCAR drivers and events saw the introduction of this talented driver during the years 1968 and 1969. Swede Savage was forced out of the Daytona 500 in 1969, after his car’s wheel fell of on the 124th lap, and he crashed out. The undeterred Savage was driving an identical sponsored Plymouth Barracudas as his teammate Dan Gurney in the 1970 Trans-Am Series.
Swede Savage took home the “Phoenix Bobby Ball 150” title in 1970, behind the wheel of an Indycar. He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 twice, with a 32nd place finish in 1972, after being forced to drop out of the race due to mechanical problems. In 1973, Swede Savage lead the Indianapolis 500 for a total of twelve laps, but was unfortunately passed on the 55th lap, by Al Unser. It was on the 58th lap, that tragedy struck. Savage’s car had brushed along side the wall at the turn four exit and his car went sliding across the track sideways. Swede Savage then impacted violently, at a very oblique angle, against the track wall. The car disintegrated on impact and erupted in a ball of flames, with the trans axle and engine tumbling continuously until it reached the entrance to the pit lane. Swede Savage was still strapped in his racing seat, and the force had thrown him across the circuit, where on this hand and knees, he came to rest at the outer retaining wall. He was completely exposed. The tragedy did not end there. Crewmembers, Armando Teran and Graham McRae, ran blindly to their injured driver. Their concern and worry for his condition caused them not to see the fire truck that was approaching the scene, driving in the opposite direction of pit lane travel, that struck and killed Armando Teran. Teran was one of the youngest members of the team.
Thirty three days after his horrific accident, David Earl “Swede” Savage, died from his injuries. Savage had inhaled racing fuel vapors during his ordeal, that had led to severe respiratory failure. Swede Savage was laid to rest in Mt View Cemetery in San Bernardino, and left behind a wife, a six year old daughter and an unborn baby. The loss of this wonderful driver, and the tragedy that befell his family, friends and fans, is evident in the fan sites and kind words that are still expressed today.